An application is in the works to demolish the Belleview Biltmore hotel, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
BELLEAIR – The owners of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel filed another application Sept. 21 for a permit to demolish the historic landmark.
In the five-page cover letter that accompanied the application, the owners of the hotel, the Ades brothers of Miami, indicated they were filing for the permit because the potential new owners of the property, Miami Architect Richard Heisenbottle and his group, defaulted on their contract to buy the property because they were unable to come up with the money. The letter states “BBP (Heisenbottle) was unable to close on the loan and defaulted on the contract. BB Hotel (Ades brothers) even provided an extension at no cost which was not required by the contract but BBP was still unable to close on the loan.”
Despite that Richard Heisenbottle said the application will not inhibit him and his partners from proceeding with their efforts to buy the property.
“This has no effect whatsoever on our plans,” he said. “We are proceeding with assembling our capital stack; the process is taking longer than we thought. We just finished getting our tax exemption from the town.”
Heisenbottle said he was not bothered by the demolition application.
“They were kind enough to tell us in advance that they were going to do it,” he said. “They have to keep things moving because if this sale doesn’t go through then they have to move on and this is a lengthy process.”
Belleair Town Manager Micah Maxwell confirmed the process could take a while.
“We have 20 days to review the application to make sure it is complete and another 30 days to review it for content,” he said. “After that there has to be a public meeting with the Historic Preservation Board and another public meeting with the commission. It will be close to sometime in December before it gets to the commission for approval.”
Heisenbottle indicated that recognizing the difficulty in getting financing prompted his group to pare back their plans for the restoration of the hotel. They had initially planned for a 465-room hotel. They have since scaled that back to 274 rooms in the main building. “There could be a second phase to the project in the future in the East Wing but we need to begin with the main building,” he said. “The 274-room plan would cost considerably less money.”
The application for the demolition permit indicates the owners will soon apply for a zoning change for the site. They will ask that the property be rezoned to permit residential development. All along the Ades brothers had indicated a desire to build townhomes on the site once they couldn’t interest hotel developers to move in.
Back in January the Ades brothers filed for a permit to demolish the building. The application got nowhere because it was lacking vital information. Before they got around to filing a more complete application the Heisenbottle group stepped forward in April with the news that they intended to buy and restore the property.
Whether or not this latest application includes the information missing in the initial application remains to be seen.
“The amount of information is more substantial, but I can’t say whether it is more complete or not,” said Town Manager Maxwell, who added that he and his staff had just begun to review the document.
There is still an opportunity for Heisenbottle or anyone else to purchase the property. The owners have set a Dec. 31 deadline for prospective new owners to close on a deal by that time. They have asked the town to defer any demolition permit until after that date.
“Mr. Heisenbottle and his group have done a lot of work surrounding the purchase of the hotel,” said Marchetti. “My client would be willing to honor that and extend the time to them.”
For Mayor Gary Katica the news of the permit application was not good.
“It is a sad moment because the best thing for Belleair is that the Biltmore will be restored,” he said. “I still hope that is the way it will go, but Raphael and Daniel (the Ades brothers) are protecting themselves in case this doesn’t go through.”